Platonic problems a plenty

Mikhail Chernyavsky

I have a lot of girl friends. By that I mean I have a lot of friends who are girls. In fact, most of my friends are girls. I always found the reaction I would get from some people amusing.

Most people will either think: “He’s a hustler, baby,” or that I’m a raging homosexual. This second was pointed out to me by a male employee who tried to pick me up the last time I went shopping at Banana Republic with some of my girl friends. So why are these the popular inclinations? Can a heterosexual man, which I am, and heterosexual women, simply be friends?

According to Rob Reiner’s film “When Harry Met Sally,” the answer is no. Why?

“Because the sex part always gets in the way,” said Billy Crystal’s character, Harry Burns.

There is no denying it. Sex is one topic that will always come up between the two genders. When my friends and I see an attractive girl walk past us, we don’t usually think about what a great friend she could be. Our instinctual inclinations lead us to physical attraction.

I don’t entirely agree with the answer in Reiner’s film. Men and women can be friends, but only under one of two conditions: the two tried dating and it didn’t work, or that neither party is attracted to the other.

There is nothing more uncomfortable thanhaving to turn down a friend who says he/shelikes you. I have had some friends open up and tell me they wanted to be more than friends. Depending on the personalities of the people, one of three things can happen: 1) The two will work it out and then forget the whole thing ever happened; 2) This willbecome a turning point and cause an evaluation of the relationship that will bring the two friends to a new level in the friendship; or 3) The complete opposite, the uncomfortable nature of the situation will cause a void in the relationship, ultimately bringing it to a slow end.

In my experience, the first and third tend to be the most common. It is very difficult to hang out with someone who is constantly trying to get something more out of you.

Communication studies junior Tiffany Smith agreed.

“As you spend more time with someone, you grow more intimate, and then you have less of a chance for a platonic relationship,” she said.

This is true with any relationship. The more time children spend with their parents, the more time a person spends with his or her significant other, or simply the more time two people spend together, the closer they will grow. For this reason, it is very important to establish the boundaries from the beginning of any friendship. Both parties must know the intentions of the other and what each wants out of the relationship.

Liberal studies senior Matt Harrington agreed.

“You have to make it known right off the bat,” Harrington said. It’s embarrassing when you go out with someone only to find outthat it was not a date. If you tend to be the type of person to black out after a night of drinking and wake up with someone next to you, remember, unlike most one-night stands, you have to see your friends again. However, taking a chance and dating a friend could bring unimaginable blessings.

“The best relationships start out platonic,” said communication studies senior Shayla Walker.

Dating a friend can be a lot easier than dating a new person because, unlike the new person, your friend already knows you. This will allow you to skip a lot of the “interviews” of the first few dates. If you break up, then you still have the friendship as the base of your relationship.

Another factor that can play into opposite genders being friends are significant others.Walker, who is friends with her ex-boyfriend, explained that problems do arise.

“You can’t do the same things, because there are more boundaries,” Walker said.

Sociology studies junior Courtney Smith said that her boyfriend does not like the fact that she has guy friends.

“He gets very suspicious,” she said.

It is important to remember that good friends will always be there.

“They were there before the (boyfriend/girlfriend), and they will be there after,” Walker said.

Men and woman can be friends. It’s just a matter of establishing boundaries, by which I mean levels of comfort.

I have girlfriends that I kiss, whether in greeting or parting. That is one level of comfort between us. We both understand that the kiss simply is a kiss between friends, and neither one thinks of it as anythingmore. If you have a friend that has the slightest interest of pursuing something more, then a kiss might not be a good idea. It is up to you to analyze your friendship and establish levels of comfort.

Men and women can be friends. Sure, sometimes the friendships take a little more work than samesex friendships, but they can also be some of the most fulfilling.

Mikhail Chernyavsky can be reached [email protected]